November 16, 2009

Those who fashion a graven image are all of them futile, and their precious things are of no profit…[They feed] on ashes; a deceived heart has turned [them] aside. Isaiah 44:9, 20a

Sometimes it’s the little articles in the newspaper that are the most intriguing.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, according to a study in the Journal of Mammalogy (who even knew there was such a publication?), the black bears of Yosemite National Park break into minivans more than any other vehicles.

The study’s authors offer a couple of reasons for their findings:

–minivans might be more likely to emit food odors because they’re generally used by families with children, and children tend to spill food and drinks;

–perhaps minivan passengers are more likely to store large amounts of food in their vehicles overnight;

–it could be minivans are easier for bears to access than other types of cars; or

–maybe only a few animals were responsible for all 908 of Yosemite’s bear-related break-ins during the study period, and they somehow learned to favor minivans.

In the article, a spokesman for the park calls bears “opportunistic eaters,” concluding, “It’s very easy for a bear to break into a vehicle—little effort for a possibly big reward.”

And once bears start coming around to where people are, they become a threat. That’s why there are regulations about storing food (NOT in the car!), and signs pleading with visitors not to feed the bears. It may look cute to see them foraging, but the end result is destruction, to humans, cars and occasionally to the bears themselves.

The above verse from Isaiah is addressed to the Israelites who had fallen into the worship of statues rather than God, but it’s applicable to any kind of skewered devotion. If you’re anything like me, you’ve already discovered there’s more of a thrill and a lot less effort in acquiring “precious things” than in building a life that honors God. More than once, the “bear” in me has turned aside to the quick fix, ignoring the Scriptural admonishment not to put so much stock in earthly things to meet my needs (Matthew 6:19-21, 33). I’ve tasted the ashes of regret in my mouth many times.

The parks give us a choice—either indulge the bears and face the consequences, or follow the rules and live in harmony with the wildlife. God holds out the same offer: “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days” (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20).

Much better than getting up close and personal with a bear.

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